Architectural Association Exhibition – London

Published
25 Sept 2022

Reading
2 min


Where does our ability to survive come from? Plants and ani mais have the same instinct. Nature has created a system, an ecosystem, with marvellous shapes and colours and incredible biodiversity. We have, in part, lost all of this, generating an irreversible change in our planet. The question is whether we can continue to live this way, or whether we should just take what's good and throw the rest away, so that we can enter a new era.

The Future is a Joumey to the Past: Stories about Sustainability, an exhibition curated by Mario Cucinella Architects, explores past and present notions of sustainability in arder to develop the ecological thinking necessary to bridge the divide between the natural world and human activity – including, of course, architecture.

The exhibition comprises three key elements: a timeline tracing the evolution of environmental awareness and activisim from prehistory to the present, and speculating on the future; a selection of projects designed by Mario Cucinella Architects that explore these themes through scale models and booklets; and a map highlighting the locations of key sites and projects explored in Cucinella’s book The Future is a Joumey to the Past. New solutions through planning and innovation often require expensive and complex stratagems.

However, a journey into the past reveals how, in eras when sustainable thinking was a necessity, humans created ingenious practical solutions that we stili have much to learn from. While nature has offered us the sustainable environments of the termite nest and beehive, of forests and the very structure of trees and plants, human ingenuity once shaped the stepwells of India, the ice houses of the lranian desert and the city of Hyderabad in Pakistan that catches the wind to naturally ventilate its buildings.

These projects, and many others, have much to teach us beyond their intrigue and beauty. In the exhibition, these journeys through the past are projected into the future, suggesting a synthesis of traditional and modem thinking in how we approach architecture and the environment. Architectural history, in all its global richness, becomes a relevant source of inspiration to educate us about our sustainable past while providing us with tools to become future guardians of the global environment.

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